Which kind of pond substrate looks best?


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What kind of bottom material do you like best in a pond in your opinion? Just a black liner? Some large river rocks? Is there another way that looks good? Does having rocks vs plain black liner make it harder to see the fish?
 
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As with everything else, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ;)

I prefer the look of a totally graveled pond bottom, as I am going for a natural look & don't want to see one bit of the liner. Others have different opinions on what they like to look at. I also feel that the gravel bottom helps give beneficial bacteria place to colonize, so (if that's true like I was taught early in my ponding years) there is actual ecosystem benefit as well as esthetic.

But, again, as to what looks "best" --- eye of the beholder.
 
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MAINLY 1" to 2" river rock as smaller is so light it gets pulled up into the vacuum too easily. but i have a some 4" and 8" to make it look natural
 

TheFishGuy

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I have some smaller river rocks, I don’t net my pond in the fall, so it is a bit of a pain pulling out leaves, but you can just get in there come spring and whazaa you got a nice looking pond.

In the future I may pull the rocks from the bottom, because I have the side walls rocked, it will hopefully still look natural, and just be easier for maintenance.

But it is all personal choice!
 
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I started with just a plain liner but switched upon expansion to a thin layer of pea gravel, mainly because I now have koi and they like to root around and work the bottom. I figured, this would give the plants a higher chance of survival.
 
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As you can see, it's all a matter of opinion. There are some benefits as some have stated. Beneficial bacteria can colonize within the gravel.
I like it without gravel or stones due to the many trees in my area. I can easily net leaves, acorns, those helicopter things, etc. out with a bare liner.

It's up to you.
 

addy1

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I have a bare liner, which looks like a natural pond bottom. Covered with bits of algae. There is some pea gravel, kitty litter that has spilled over the years on the bottom.
 

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Part of my pond is bare liner, and part has larger basketball size rocks mixed with 1-2” river rock and pea gravel.
 
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cas

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I love the look of a pond with rock lining the inside, but when I built my pond I was on a tight budget so I skipped the rock. I didn't buy any rock - I scavenged them all at building sites and along the road. As said before, once the algae coats the sides of the liner, it doesn't look too bad. I also use a pond-vac to clean the bottom of the pond in the spring and fall, so having no rock on the bottom makes that easier.

plants - algae bloom 2016-6-13.JPG
 
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When the liner ages and gets covered in a fine film of algae it can look natural . the folds if you even pay attention as you set the liner and the water can look like fractures in the ledge . but it's just your rubber. If you have a chance of water under the liner i would have to say theres little choice , rock it is . Now i do have rock in my pond big rock and while the bald liner can have its own effect and definate benifit in cleaning it just doesn't have the same pop as boulders do .


 
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I love the look of a pond with rock lining the inside, but when I built my pond I was on a tight budget so I skipped the rock. I didn't buy any rock - I scavenged them all at building sites and along the road. As said before, once the algae coats the sides of the liner, it doesn't look too bad. I also use a pond-vac to clean the bottom of the pond in the spring and fall, so having no rock on the bottom makes that easier.

I have always loved your pond @cas Though you used many of the materials that can make the ponds edg look like a string of pearls you did a greta job breaking up the edges with your plants, each plant has it's own shape and color and compliments the next just goes to show it doesn't need to be 2,000 pound boulders " (only some of us have rocks on the brain)"
 
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Even EPDM liners (which last 20 years plus) degrade more quickly in direct sun. I don’t know what depth of water is required to protect it from the sun. We are a bit obsessive about ensurIng every bit of liner is covered by rocks.
 
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As you should be, I have an rv that has basically been out in the sun day in day out since 2012 and i have had to replace epdm gaskets. And for all the work i put into my pond i want a heck of a lot more years then 8 If epdm is kept cool and out of uv rays it can last a heck of a lot longer then 20 years
 

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Cant say for sure with epdm, but if it is anything like geo textile filter fabrics woven and non woven last pretty much forever if kept out of the sun. I had to demo out old bulkheads (stone or wood) that are over 50 years old and the filter cloth under it is in good shape Where it has been protected from the sun.
 
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When the liner ages and gets covered in a fine film of algae it can look natural . the folds if you even pay attention as you set the liner and the water can look like fractures in the ledge . but it's just your rubber. If you have a chance of water under the liner i would have to say theres little choice , rock it is . Now i do have rock in my pond big rock and while the bald liner can have its own effect and definate benifit in cleaning it just doesn't have the same pop as boulders do .


@GBBUDD ; nice videos overall. One thing I noted is you're using some sort of gopro type on a stick to film these, right? I use to do the same. Last year, I modified an RC boat to accept my gopro unit and the type of video I can now get is tremendously better. Maybe this is of interest? IMO, beats having to walk around approximating what you're seeing. The RC boat gives different viewing angles/perspectives, all while sitting in a chair using a remote. Modification wasn't hard; just add some sort of bracket that will fit your gopro housing and voila! you're good to go. I even added a telescoping unit with swivel joint to the bottom of my bracket so I can get waterline as well as deep, bottom of the pond footage.

And because I didn't have one and was shopping anyway, I got one that is an alligator head, which can double for 'pond ornament' too! Check online as I found the alligator head was an easy modify.

Just an idea!
 

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